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What is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)?

Pollution degrades lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and creeks making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.  Point source pollutants are those that come from apparent, confined means of transport (pipes, ditches, containers, etc).  Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation's water quality.  These permits regulate substances such as chlorine, metals, minerals, and other substances that pose threats to health. In the State of Michigan the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) manages this permit program.  

Phase I
The first phase (Phase I) of the NPDES permit program affected municipalities with population in excess of 100,000. In Genesee County only the City of Flint met those requirements. 

Phase II
The Phase II NPDES permit program expands the Phase I program by requiring municipal storm sewer systems and construction sites to implement programs and practices to control polluted stormwater runoff.  Phase II is the next step in the EPA’s effort to protect, preserve, and improve our water resources. In Genesee County, the Phase II Stormwater Education Program is implemented through collaboration among local units of government and public organizations. The cooperative nature of the program ensures that the most effective program is implemented using the least resources possible. The partnership brings together regulated units of government including townships, cities and villages with local partners who are working to protect our communities’ natural resources. This partnership facilitates our community’s compliance with federal regulation while supporting existing organizations working in our communities to positively affect water quality.


More Information


What is NPDES?

Why is NPDES needed?

Who's Involved

Decision-Making Strucure

Educational Components




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